This study provides a useful synthesis of scholarship on Roman Catholic Church institutions, policies, and values in relation to women in colonial Brazil. Ambitious in scope, it considers the ways in which church authorities, over the course of three centuries, promoted ideal Christian virtues and education for women, enforced expectations for their marriage or seclusion, and insisted on their religious conformity. Each of the six topical chapters investigates the Iberian origins of church practices related to a particular aspect of women's lives and traces the transferral of those practices to, and their transformation in, Brazil.

Although the author hopes to “contribute to writing women back into their own history” (p. 238), the study reveals more about churchmen's attitudes and aims than it does about women's lived experience. The Eurocentric notions that sixteenth-century explorers and missionaries projected onto indigenous women are surveyed in...

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